At this point in the season, nearly all of the highly dependable closers are off the waiver wire. However, given the significant turnover at the closer position, there are still arms that pop up that can be a viable source of saves. The window to pounce on them can be small, so it is imperative to stay on top of who has been getting the save chances and react accordingly. Below I have 3 closers all less than 25% owned on ESPN. For those in deeper leagues these guys may be gone already, but they are all available in 75% or more of ESPN leagues. I have listed them in order of their value in my eyes.
Kennedy seems to have taken a firm grasp on the closer role in Kansas City and hasn’t looked back since. The Royals may not grant him as many save opportunities as a playoff caliber team, but he’s been valuable lately nonetheless. The flip side is that if they are not a powerhouse, most of their winnable games should be decided by just a couple runs. As of lately, that seems to hold true. The Royals are 5-5 in their last 10, with Kennedy recording a save in each of those wins. Kennedy has recorded a save in each of his past 5 appearances, and 6 in his last 7. In those 6 1/3 innings, Kennedy has posted 12K:1BB while allowing just 4 hits. Through his 29 innings of relief this season, Kennedy has posted a 3.72 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, while striking out 38 and walking just 5 batters. On the season, Kennedy is 8-for-10 in his save opportunities. As an added bonus, you can slot him in as a SP. He appears to have a pretty secure job as the 9th inning man, and should continue to pile up some saves for your squad.
Hansel Robles – Angles (23.9% owned)
With the release of Cody Allen, Robles has further solidified his role of closer for the Angels. Robles has recorded 10 saves this season, with no other active member of the bullpen over 2. He has 2 blown saves to his name (both in May), so he hasn’t been perfect but 10-for-12 is nothing to sneeze at. On the season, Robles holds a 3.24 ERA and 1.05 WHIP through 33 1/3 innings, while posting 32K:8BB and a .218 BAA. That’s good for a 24.2% strikeout rate and 6.1% walk rate. Robles has been solid all year, but has been especially great lately. Since the start of June, Robles has a 0.00 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 8 innings of work en route to 4 saves and a win. He has struck out 7 batters over that stretch, while walking just 1. I see Robles being a pretty reliable closer to finish the year and a good add for someone in need of some help in the saves department.
Like Kennedy, Romo doesn’t exactly pitch on a team that wins loads of games. However, he too will benefit from many of his winnable games being close scoring affairs. Buyer beware though, I wouldn’t exactly classify Romo as one of the cleanest closers out there. But all of the clean closers are already on teams for good reason, so beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to adding saves. There will certainly be weeks where Romo won’t be too kind to your ratios. Through 24 innings this season, Romo has a 5.25 ERA and 1.42 WHIP while striking out 21 and walking 12. I know, I know. I’m supposed to be telling you why he should be an appealing option for your pen, and that doesn’t exactly cut it. The 4 ER he surrendered to the Braves on June 9th certainly did bad, bad things to that ERA. While not being the sharpest pitcher in the game, Romo has been getting it done when it matters most. He is 12-for-13 in save opportunities this year, with his lone BS coming about a month ago. I get it if you find him hard to trust, but he should be a decent source of saves to those who are needy. He too can be slotted in as an SP, so can give an edge to those who are in leagues that use distinct RP slots.